Wednesday, February 26

UCLA struggles to keep heads above water in close match against Pepperdine

Redshirt junior Jada Hart's singles victory against Pepperdine knotted the dual at 3-3, but UCLA women's tennis was unable to pull off the win. The Bruins are now 0-2 against the Waves this season. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

Three hours and 10 minutes later, the Waves came out on top again.

No. 8 UCLA women’s tennis (12-5, 4-1 Pac-12) dropped a close 3-4 encounter to No. 9 Pepperdine (12-3, 3-0 WCC) at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Wednesday afternoon.

“We competed really well,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “I was encouraged and excited about our chances for this year compared to when we played them last, where I felt we just didn’t compete.”

The Waves blanked the Bruins earlier this year on March 13 at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center.

UCLA immediately improved upon its previous performance by taking the doubles point, winning on courts two and three.

“With (freshman Elysia Bolton) and I finishing first, it really carried the momentum on to the other two courts in doubles,” said No. 41 redshirt junior Jada Hart.

“We kind of knew what to expect going in from what we had heard from (seniors Gabby Andrews and Alaina Miller) as they played them last time,” Bolton said. “We’ve been playing well recently.”

The Bruins, however, were unable to capitalize on the strong start, securing only one of the first six sets in singles.

Freshman Taylor Johnson was whitewashed 6-0, 6-0 on court six to give the Waves their first point.

No. 21 Bolton put the second point on the board for the Bruins with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 88 Adrijana Lekaj. Bolton lost to Lekaj in an earlier matchup 6-4, 7-5.

“I played a lot better compared to how I played last time,” Bolton said. “I always get nervous watching (others after I finish). It just did not go our way. They played really well today.”

Hart also avenged her singles loss earlier in the season. The redshirt junior defeated No. 45 Ashley Lahey 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 after losing to Lahey 3-6, 3-4 in their first encounter of the season.

“I was definitely banged up the first time I played her, but I could’ve played a lot better that time around,” Hart said. “One break really made the difference in the first set and I had a slow start in the second, but I started playing better and playing more balls. When I started playing better, I was a little more aggressive and I carried that into the third set.”

Hart’s victory knotted the score at three apiece with No. 98 sophomore Abi Altick left to duel it out with Dzina Milovanovic. Milovanovic won in three sets to capture the match for the Waves.

UCLA will next face Utah (11-5, 2-3 Pac-12) and Colorado (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to complete its six-game home stand.

Sports staff

D'Souza is currently a Sports staff writer for the women's basketball, men's basketball and women's tennis beats. He was previously a reporter for the men's tennis and women's volleyball beats.

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